Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Windows 8 Review - A look at the Windows 8 ecosystem
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held January in Las Vegas is the biggest technology event on the planet. One new product that caught people’s attention at the show was Tactus’ bubble screen technology. It is pretty cool. Tactile keyboard buttons magically pop up on the tablet screen and disappear when you do not need the keyboard. This technology is expected to be adopted by the next generation of tablets and devices at the end of the year.

Tactus Bubble screen technology. The next new thing you gotta have on your mobile device
Tactus Bubble screen technology. The next new thing you gotta have on your device

There is always something new around the corner, and Windows 8 is the next big player that publishers must reckon with for their digital publishing strategy. Publishers should not underestimate Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. As of April 2012, Windows still controls 92% of the desktop/laptop market with Apple hovering around 5%, which suggests Microsoft's dominance is still very much alive. The Windows 8 OS has shipped 60 million licenses as of the end of 2012 and, according to a new study by Ipsos Research, Microsoft is ranked the second most influential brand in Canada, with Google at No. 1, Apple No. 3, Facebook No. 4 and Walmart No. 5.

I had my own mini-CES in my office this January as I got to play with a smartphone (Nokia 920), laptop (Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook) and two tablets (ASUS and Samsung) using Windows 8, giving me a sense how this new OS will work on different devices. My December blog on the Nokia 900 windows phone gave me a taste of what is coming and I was impressed; after playing with all these devices, I can safely say that Windows 8 rocks. Tablets are evolving into mini-laptops and using Windows ensures that your existing Windows apps will work on them.

The Windows 8 OS is very simple to use, but is it cool enough to beat Apple’s brilliant branding campaigns? It has geek-cool features but is that enough to get people to use it? Branding is so important for a commodity like computers now. Dell used to own cool, but now Apple does. Blackberry is trying to be cool with its appointment of Alicia Keys as its new Global Creative Director.

There are a lot of OEMs supporting Windows; Ryan Winsborrow from says the money in IT is in Windows and a lot of companies think so, too. The Windows 8 OS is the same user experience on any device so one size fits all, allowing you to move from one to another with a minimal learning curve. Users can seamlessly switch from a familiar desktop view to the new home page interface with the Windows 8 tile layout that was designed with touch screens in mind. Also, the number of game developers that have been pumping out PC games for generations will ensure that there will be enough content in the app store to satisfy anybody’s appetite. 

Dell 14” XPS  Ultrabook
This 14” laptop has 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, a 2.6 GHz Intel processor, a webcam, and weighs 4.6 lbs. For a modern laptop I found it a little heavy, but I like the fact that the heat from the battery was low and it did not bother my legs when using it on my lap. Retail starts from $1260. Dell has come out with a tablet branded XPS 10 starting from $499, with an optional dock/keyboard.

Dell 14” XPS  Ultrabook
Dell 14” XPS Ultrabook

Asus Vivo Tab RT
The maker of the Google Nexus tablet is a rising star in the hardware market, and its Windows 8 tablet is slick and a pleasure to use. This tablet uses Windows RT instead of Windows 8 as it is designed for a low energy processor. It has a 10.1” display, is 8.3 mm thick and weighs 1.2 lbs. It comes with 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and an optional detachable keyboard so you can transform it into a mini-laptop. Ryan Winsborrow gives this device the thumbs-up and it retails for $599 at Future Shop. The dock/keyboard is an additional $199, but I have seen sales on Amazon that are cheaper.

Asus Vivo Tab RT
Asus Vivo Tab RT

Samsung ATIV Smart PC
This tablet has an 11.6” display, which is a great size because it allows for wider touch keyboards for easier typing, which I liked a lot. I had fewer accidental touches; websites did not fill the screen so I had some white space on the side where I could swipe. It comes with detachable keyboard for conversion to mini-laptop. The unit crashed on me and I found it a little buggy. The sound and WiFi did not always work. It weighs 1.7 lbs and is 1 cm thick. This is a pricey tablet, starting at $799 for the 2GB RAM, 64 GB of memory and the dock/keyboard at Future Shop.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC
Samsung ATIV Smart PC

Nokia 920
The experience on the Windows smartphone is the basis of the new Windows 8 desktop and the user experience makes it easy to transition from gadget to gadget. Despite some minor tweaks the device was essentially the same experience as the Nokia 900 that I reviewed in December 2012, so if you want additional details you should go to my blog archives.

Nokia 920
Nokia 920

The strength of Windows is in desktops, and hopefully this market position will funnel down to tablets and smartphones. It looks like Microsoft has brought its A-game to the table for the next generation of computing hardware. The fragmentation that is taking place with Apple, Android, Windows and now the Blackberry 10 (that is getting rave reviews, btw) will definitely be challenging for magazine publishers to keep up with for their websites, digital editions and magazine apps. Sometimes you just gotta choose between them or find a strategy that works on all devices (i.e. a web browser solution with both a desktop and mobile website).
- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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